Which are the Oldest Streets in the Town?

All the main streets of Torrington are mentioned in early deeds, such as Calf (Calve Strete) 1283 and Cornmarket (Cornstrete) 1345.  Even New Street (Nywystret) appears in a document dated 1382.

In the 17th century most of the population lived close to the town centre.  The Hearth Tax of 1674 lists only 316 houses.  Given the size of the population at the time, this would have meant an average of seven people per house so the built-up area of the town was densely populated.

Torrington commanded an important crossing of the River Torridge by way of the South Bridge (Taddiport) and Rothern Bridge, and served as a market centre for the surrounding area.  

There were four distinct old main roads running almost due north, south, east and west from the town: School Lane to the north was the old road to Bideford, via Weare Giffard, Gammaton and East-the-Water, and also to Barnstaple.  The road was named after the school set up by John Lovering in 1671 in Weare Giffard.  The really ancient road to Barnstaple – 'Barum' – was by another old pack-way from Calf Street, down what is now Gas Lane to Brent Bridge and on by Coombe Cross.  Taddiport Bridge to the south took the old road to Plymouth which climbed a steep hill to Little Torrington.  To the east the old road to Exeter went from Well Street by way of Caddywell and Shallowford and back up to North Healand.  The old road down over the commons at the western end of town crossed the Torridge at Rothern Bridge and went up to Frithelstock and on to Hartland and Stratton (which facilitated communications between monastic establishments).

Street and place names in Torrington reflect the activities that took place there in the past.  Limers Road was an old pack road along which lime, coal and other supplies were transported from Weare Giffard where they had been unloaded from barges (before being replaced by the Rolle Canal in 1827).  Mill Street led down to the ancient Manor Corn Mill which was later rebuilt further upstream by Lord Rolle.  Rack Park is where woollen cloth was hung out to dry on racks.  Castle Street marks the approach from the town to the site of the medieval castle and Barley Grove refers to the bailey of the castle.

A new turnpike road to Bideford was constructed on the west bank of the Torridge via Landcross in 1825.  The old road from Rothern Bridge to Torrington was up Carriage Path on the commons.  When Torrington railway station was built in 1872 the road was altered, and again in 1928 when the new Rolle Bridge was built.  New Bridge by the New Manor Mill/Orford Mill was built in 1843 at the instigation of Lord Rolle, and a new road was cut from there up Mile Hill to Little Torrington, Merton and Hatherleigh which opened in 1844.

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